State Lawmakers React to McDonnell’s Bill Amendments - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

State Lawmakers React to McDonnell’s Bill Amendments

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State lawmakers are reacting to a number of new bill amendments passed down from Governor Bob McDonnell Tuesday. They include several changes to the state budget, the much-discussed transportation plan and a bevy of other bills.

Some 2013 bills made the cut, some didn't. And others are coming back from the governor's desk with changes.

Lawmakers say they are still picking through the details of the amendments, but expect more sparks to fly when they return to Richmond next week. 

The governor's amendments cover everything from abortion coverage to transportation. Now state lawmakers have a week to pick through the details.

"It's too early to tell. We're still sort of going through and reaching a conclusion," said Del. Rob Bell (R) 58th District. 

In his amendments to the transportation funding plan, McDonnell slashed a highly controversial fee for alternative fuel vehicles from $100 to $64. 

McDonnell also suggested extending regional taxing authorities to areas outside Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, addressing constitutionality concerns. 

"We had hoped that he would have kept more money in the bill, but he didn't take too much out of it," said Del. David Toscano (D) 57th District. 

In his amendments to the state budget, McDonnell made changes to Medicaid expansion language meant to ensure reforms ahead of expansion. 

Augusta Delegate Steve Landes anticipates major debate over Medicaid and transportation. 

"Those two issues are going to dominate our discussion. I think most of the other changes are minor," said Landes (R) 25th District. 

Also raising concern from women's rights groups is an amendment that would bar abortion coverage from all insurance plans purchased in a healthcare exchange. 

"That is really quite different from the state saying, we are not going to pay for abortions. It is saying that a private contractor can't offer them," Toscano said. 

Lawmakers return to Richmond next Wednesday, April 3, to consider all of the governor's changes and amendments. The governor will then have one last chance to approve or veto any pending legislation. 

But some bills have already been signed into law, and won't go through that process. Among them is a controversial measure requiring all voters starting in 2014 to show a photo ID to vote. 

Republicans say it will cut down on voter fraud at the polls. Democrats, meanwhile, say it will disenfranchise poor and elderly voters, and say they are committed to seeing it repealed.

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